Woman shares the trauma of an eating disorder which has almost cost her life 

'It feels like I’m trapped in a body that is determined to torture itself'
Woman shares the trauma of an eating disorder which has almost cost her life 

In 2018, of the €1.5m allocated to tackle eating disorders, €137,000 was spent. In 2019, although €1.6m was allocated to eating disorders, nothing was spent. Funding for eating disorder support and treatment was also entirely suspended last year. Stock picture.

A woman who is battling an eating disorder so severe she tried to take her own life has shared a harrowing account of what she is going through.

She said that she has begged to be admitted to hospital for treatment before her bulimia kills her, but has been unable to get a public bed and cannot afford private care.

The woman, 30, who asked to remain anonymous, is a high achiever, with both academic and professional success.

But between the friendly ‘hellos’ on Zoom meetings every workday, she is eating "furiously" until she feels physically ill, then forcing herself to vomit. 

She sneaks outside throughout the day with bags of vomit and empty food wrappers to stuff them in public bins so her housemates don’t see them.

She has taken so many laxatives that she believes there may be tears in her colon.

She says she wakes up exhausted from the 'carnage' of the night before feeling sore, weak, bloated, and disorientated. She feels ashamed as she sees takeaway food cartons, cereal boxes, and bags stuffed with food wrappings as well as bags of vomit. 

"I swear to myself over and over that I’m not going to eat anything today or ever again, not one calorie.” 

“Then the cycle starts. I eat furiously, in a total panic, as if I haven’t eaten in weeks. I’m sweating and it hurts to breathe because I am so full of food. I make my way to the bathroom, bent over in pain, turn on the taps to drown out the noise and frantically shove my fingers back my throat and punch my abdomen, vomiting until I physically cannot get anything else up."

It’s like I’m leading a double life; the people I talk to almost every day have no idea how I spend my time between calls and emails.

She adds: “My skin is crawling. It feels like my body is getting bigger. I try to pretend like none of it is happening."

“My throat is raw. Every part of my body hurts. I’ve lost two teeth already and recently another one broke in half so now I can’t chew on one side of my mouth because of the pain.

“It feels like I’m trapped in a body that is determined to torture itself.

“It feels like I will die if I can’t get my hands on more food, I will die if I cannot vomit everything up, I will die if I gain weight. And I know I will die if I keep doing what I’m doing.

Doctors tell me that my illness is killing me yet there’s no real support.

She said that despite begging multiple psychiatrists for help, she has not been admitted to the inpatient care she believes she needs to save her life. Even after she tried to take her own life last month, she said that she was not admitted to a mental health ward.

In 2018, of the €1.5m allocated to tackle eating disorders, €137,000 was spent. In 2019, although €1.6m was allocated to eating disorders, nothing was spent. Funding for eating disorder support and treatment was also entirely suspended last year.

She routinely has to wait months for "urgent" appointments, while other people with less support from family, friends and work, have already given up on life and died.

She said that the service is so limited it’s like “putting a plaster on a broken leg.”

We need the system to change. If I do come through this, I want to advocate for people with eating disorders, to use my voice in some way to help others who have no one speaking up for them.

A HSE spokesperson said anyone concerned about an eating disorder should talk to their GP. Adults can access treatment from one of 112 local community mental health teams nationwide with appointments offered within 12 weeks. 

Adults can also be referred to any of the HSE’s acute inpatient mental health-approved centres, treated in an acute hospital, or treated in one of three dedicated beds in St Vincent’s hospital ring-fenced for adults with eating disorders from that region, they said, with funding also available for private facilities.

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